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Past & Present:  Russian Jewish American Stories

November 15-16, 2015

A unique show of stories, poetry, plays and song, which explores the humorous and poignant stories of Russian-speaking Jews – the life they lived in the FSU and the life they are living today as Americans.

PRESS

Broadway World

Bonnnie Priever Curtain Up

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE

DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE

THE PROGRAM

Material Adapted and Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Eve Brandstein
Assistant Producer Barbara Koletsky
Associate Producers Patrick Conde, Rose Ziff, Susie Yuré

Russian Folk Song — Yamshik
Performed by Julia & Jacob Kantor

A Jew in FSU
Written by Tina Grimberg, Rabbi Leonid Feldman and Lilia Lukowsky.  Performed by Lisa Ann Grant, Sean Topps & Kate Rappoport.

Refused No More
Written by Rabbi Leonid Feldman.  Performed by Sean Topps.

Peachy
Written by Yelena Shor.  Performed by Lisa Ann Grant & Eugene Alper.

Price to Pay
Written by Lilia Lukowsky.  Performed by Kate Rappoport & Eugene Alper.

What I Had to Learn
Written by Rabbi Leonid Feldman.  Performed by Sean Topps & Lisa Ann Grant.

My Son’s Turn
Written by Lilia Lukowsky.  Performed by Kate Rappoport & Eugene Alper.

Retired
Written by Alla Rubin.  Performed by Julia Kantor.

Always Come Home
Written by Natasha Basley.  Performed by Lisa Ann Grant & Kate Rappoport.

The Counterpart
Written by Nadia Kalman.  Adapated by Ronda Spinak.  Performed by Eugene Alper, Lisa Ann Grant, Sean Topps & Kate Rappoport.

Drama For Your Momma
Written and performed by Kira Soltanovich.

Love’s Infinite Streams
Music and Lyrics by Jacob Kantor. Performed by Julia & Jacob Kantor.

ARTIST BIOS

EUGENE ALPER (Actor)

Before emigrating from the Soviet Union in 1989, Eugene worked as a bread-loader, a house-painter, and, having earned a Master’s Degree in theater, an actor in a Leningrad troupe.  After immigrating to Los Angeles, he has been creatively employed delivering pizza, digging at a Jewish cemetery, enforcing municipal codes, pursuing occasional acting, composing Russian songs, translating Chekhovian memoirs, and studying political philosophy.  With one missing piece of the mosaic—participating in a Jewish Women’s Theater production—now in place, Eugene feels proud and almost complete.

NATASHA MICHELLE BASLEY (Writer) is a peacenik, poet, and short story writer. She has worked in international affairs for over a decade but has continued to dabble in the arts. She sang in the Peace Child Honor Choir of Los Angeles, which took her to a Soviet Pioneer camp in the 1980s in Yalta, where kids from the U.S. and USSR performed a joint musical production about world peace and preserving the environment. She also performed as an actor in Nancy Keystone’s award-winning The Akhmatova Project and Bill Viola’s internationally acclaimed series, The Passions. When living in Nepal, she worked with the Kasthamandap Modern Art Collective to produce a fashion show entitled Wearable Art and also sang back-up for a now-defunct rock band. She continues to write and hopes to publish her memoir-cum-novel about her adventures around the world. Natasha would like to dedicate “Always Come Home” to her mother, Alicin Varonica Basley.
EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director) has made contributions to every facet of the entertainment industry from studio executive, producer, director, writer/creator, talent manager, and author. Eve also has a notable career as a casting director. Credits include the feature This is Spinal Tap , television credits include Diff’rent StrokesOne Day At A TimeFacts of Life, Who’s The Boss, Beastmaster and Total Recall. Among her television production credits, she produced and developed  E/R the Comedy Series, and produced and directed the series John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You.  Her recent return to theater directing credits are the long running hit production of Not That Jewish, the NY Off-Broadway 2 year hit of Shut Up Sit Down & Eat, NY and LA premieres of Revisiting Wildfire, the NY premiere of Voices Of Swords, Ronnie Spector’s Beyond The Beehive, Waiting For Jack – A Beat Poetry ReunionClaiming Allen Ginsberg, and Suzanne Wang’s Cracked Open. Eve has also directed the Jewish Women’s Theater shows Stories From the FringeSaffron and RosewaterHold Me, Heal Me and He Said, She Said.  She continues to produce the bi-costal spoken-word event Poetry In Motion since 1988.  evebrandsteinproductions.com.
PATRICK CONDE (Associate Producer) the most recent JWT employee, came to LA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his BA in history and communication arts. Driven by his passion for filmmaking and will to work in the entertainment industry, he found solace in contributing to the success of The Braid, JWT’s newly created theater. Using his talents to cement JWT’s success on social media and spearheading the paperless initiative, Patrick’s radical ideas and willingness to innovate have taken JWT in a whole new direction.
RABBI LEONID FELDMAN (Writer), spiritual leader of Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida, and CLAL associate, is the first and only Soviet-born Conservative rabbi in America. He is also the president of the Ami-Da Institute for training Russian Jewish leaders and senior rabbinic fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Rabbi Feldman has lectured in 37 states and 19 countries, has testified before the US Congress and Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and addressed the California Senate and Florida House of Representatives. He has been the subject of feature articles in the NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Jerusalem Post, Miami Herald, LA Times, Insight Magazine, and Moment, and his biography appears in a host of Who’s Whos. Rabbi Feldman has served as a scholar for the Wexner Heritage Foundation and as director of education for Soviet emigrés in Italy. He holds graduate degrees in rabbinics from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, in education from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in physics and theater arts from Kishinev State Pedagogical Institute in the USSR, and is a Ph.D candidate in international relations at the University of Miami.
LISA ANN GRANT (Actor) is thrilled to be a part of the Jewish Women’s Theatre. Originally from New York City, Lisa appeared on Broadway as Eponine in Les MiserablesLeader of the Pack, DreamGirls, and Camelot. She appeared Off-Broadway with Robert Downey Jr. and Jane Krakowski in American Passion and Radio City Music Hall as a soloist. On television she has appeared on Comedy Central, Stacked, Charmed, ER, and Crossing Jordan, to name a few, as well as several commercials and voice-overs.
NADIA KALMAN (Writer) is the author of the novel, The Cosmopolitans, which won the 2011 Emerging Fiction Award from Moment magazine and was a finalist for the Rohr Prize. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is currently editing her second novel.
JACOB (Singer/Songwriter) and JULIA (Singer/Performer/Actor) KANTOR, a husband-and-wife duo, have been singing together since their first date. They launched the French band Paris Chansons, specializing in original renditions of French favorites. Jacob and Julia perform regularly at the Sofitel, the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, and private/corporate events all over. They are especially known for their signature show Moulin Russe, of French and Russian music. Jacob is originally from Moscow; Julia was born in Lvov, Ukraine, and lived and studied in France. They are thrilled to be part of this show. For more information, visit www.parischansons.com.